Experience and empathy….

When David Cameron became Prime Minister , telling us that the NHS was safe in his hands I and many others expected cuts yes, he is a Tory, but hoped maybe it might not be so bad, after all didn’t he have a severely disabled son, Ivan.


David Cameron had spoken so often about the importance of the NHS in the life of his family and how frequently they needed to call on its services, we thought maybe he understood, and while we were wary and anxious yes, we hoped it would not be as bad under him as we feared.The Prime Minister also had a disabled father….

Our tentative hopes proved so wrong, and at least 32 die a week after failing the test for ESA, the replacement for Incapacity benefit brought in by Cameron‘s coalition .

Rather than empathy and understanding, Cameron‘s experiences appear to have had the opposite effect and job centre advisers admit they are being forced to sign terminally ill people as fit for work. ATOS, the group contracted by the government to deny disability benefits to claimants and find current claimants fit for work and remove their benefits told an incontinent woman to ‘wear a nappy’ in order to go to work . In another case, and these are certainly not isolated , a Mum-of-three was told to find a job by Atos chiefs and weeks later she died of a brain tumour.

Would Cameron and the minister for work and pensions, Iain Duncan Smith want this treatment for sick and disabled members of their own family ? Probably not, but the point is that they will never have to imagine the effect it has to be treated in this manner and what it is to be in that position.
There is a saying that has some different versions and the origins are shrouded in fable about trying to walk a mile in someone else’ s shoes, I also know it as the native American version Walking a mile in someone else’ s moccasins .

I remember with much admiration , an elderly lady who was born in and until recently lived in the same town as I live now. She often spoke to me of having had polio as a child and all that she owed to the support of her clearly wonderful mother. Some years later, when she was working and trying to care for her by then elderly mother who needed support herself, she founded a local branch of the carer’s support group The Princess Royal Trust For Carers. She was involved in local politics and highly respected locally, but she never, ever forgot her roots and since we lived in a borough of wide social and economic division , I knew what she meant when she told me that although her group was open to all, there was a huge difference between being disabled in a big house with lots of money in one end of the borough, and being disabled on benefits in a council flat at the other end of it.

We have our Home Secretary Theresa May, of the huge shoe collection and fan of kitten heels and leopard print , who has presided on her watch over a vicious reform of the UK immigration laws, telling us that she has been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Insisting of course that it is business as usual and it makes no difference to her ability to do her job
I agree !! , many diabetics successfully work , and on the other hand, many, especially those diagnosed later in life when they might be having to consider a job change because they are being forced to take any job at all , will find that complications of diabetes such as diabetic retinopathy lessen chances of jobs that demand good eyesight . Some employers will think a job as being a danger to your condition for yourself and for others, and this may further complicate an application. And that as an insulin user, the following jobs (under current legislation) are unavailable to you.

This list does not cover every position, and an employer may use their own discretion, in some cases unfairly. Some of these jobs are exempt from the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995, meaning that employers can refuse an applicant who has diabetes.

Armed forces
• Fire service
• Ambulance service
• Prison service
• Airline pilots and Airline Cabin crew
• Air traffic control
• Offshore work

Theresa May’s attitude of business as usual is admirable, however, is she perhaps doing fellow diabetics not in her privileged position a disservice? I’m not for a moment saying she should give up work, but it would be nice to see her start to really fight for and defend the sick and disabled , because a lot of fellow diabetics in the above occupations could well have to stop work and find themselves at the cruel hands of her government, her boss the Prime Minister and the Department for Work and Pensions .
Somehow, I can’t see it happening because as we found with the Prime Minister, experience does not necessarily produce empathy.

Employment law taken from Diabetes.co.uk © 2015 Diabetes Digital Media Ltd – the global diabetes community.


About veh3959

I’m Valerie and like so many today am looking for a job while over 50 and with health issues. While looking for work and trying to make myself employable I have come across lots of useful information and resources, so thought I would share them
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